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See Homepage. This page: A fascinating look back at travel-weary motor-cars, spotted during the 1970s.

Pozor! The Automotive Landscape in Czechoslovakia in the Seventies.


Theo Barten and Maarten Swarts.
ISBN 978 90 817110 3 6
Published 2014. (Hardback, 143 pages).
Book cover

38.50 Euros.

Available direct from the publisher.
As the archive of original old images on Old Classic Car demonstrates (link), I'm keen on period photographs of cars, especially those of the 1920s to the 1960s. Happily, there's no shortage of books to be bought that feature roadside scenes from the olden days. Some titles look at the products of a particular manufacturer, whereas many others concentrate on an era, for example the vintage years. This book, though, doesn't restrict itself to any one maker or era of vehicle. What it does though, is concentrate on sightings made in a particular country - Czechoslovakia - during a timeframe of the 1970s.
The book has been put together by Theo Barten and Maarten Swarts, using photographs that they - for the most part - took themselves, and is published in their native country - The Netherlands. The version featured here has been translated into English, and is to be followed by similar books featuring sightings made in Istanbul, and also the USA.
Czechoslovakia was, at the time, part of the Eastern Bloc, and as such was something of an unknown quantity to anyone visiting from Western Europe. Intrigued by the cars they saw still in service, the authors sought to record many of their sightings on film. This, then, is a unique peek behind the Iron Curtain, at cars that for the most part were quite alien to Western eyes. Understandably, many pages are given over to Czechoslovakian-built cars. All the images are in black and white, giving them an added air of nostalgia, with accompanying notes about their subject. Interestingly, there were still many pre-war cars in service throughout the 1970s, and while looking weather-beaten and ready for retirement in many cases, they continued to serve their owners.
There are some real rarities. These include a one-cylinder Aero two-seat tourer, still in use in 1971 but dating to circa 1930. Other indigenous manufacturers to feature include Skoda, Jawa, Praga, Zbrojovka, Velorex, and Tatra, of which there are many photos. Several pages are given over to the rear-engined, air-cooled, V8 Tatras. Due to all the cars being quite old at the time of being photographed, they exhibit wear and tear to varying degrees, not something that would be in evidence if the book had instead concentrated on restored examples that have survived to this day. This makes the book a lot more appealing to me, but then again I do quite like mildly-distressed cars, as opposed to concours examples.
Cars built across Europe can also be found, so readers with an interest in say Adler, Peugeot, Opel or VW for instance, will find pages of interest to them. British cars also make a brief appearance. Page 106 features a RHD Austin 8 (described as a 10, but very similar in appearance), while on the facing page resides a c1937 25hp Vauxhall saloon, looking tired and missing a headlamp. A selection of US-built cars then follow, as do a pair of unusual buses (a Skoda, and a Hungarian Ikarus).
This book should appeal to anyone who enjoys studying old photographs of cars, with the added bonus of them featuring cars not usually found in the UK (in most cases). The contents page is in alphabetical order, whereas the content appears to be loosely grouped by the cars' country of origin. Grouping the content into distinct chapters would make it a little easier to read. This is a very minor point only, and doesn't detract from the fantastic photographs that make up this worthwhile addition to anyone's bookshelf.
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